Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Lost Soul

Sorry -- I can't explain it. I don't understand it myself and I was there. The nicest couple. Pillar of the community types. Sure, a little starchy. He's a manager at my company, not my branch but another. Been there forever. He volunteered his dining room.

His wife was -- very much a manager's wife. Very polite, not a chit-chatty type, but then she had a huge amount of food to lay out. She did it all herself, that's unusual, and the food itself was -- different. At least not what folks around here are used to. As we had our meeting I could see her setting the table. Formal for us means a salad fork and a cloth napkin -- but she laid out a huge amount of silver, spoon after spoon, like a kid copying out a composition. I thought gosh she must be anxious to make a good impression.

Everything she cooked had curry in it, or avocado, or eggplant. Fish with the head still on. The kind of bitter salad that nobody in the world eats unless other people are watching. Mollusks. Nothing for the white bread crowd in sight and I know for a fact that several people went out for a burger later.

We were all seated at the table. I was wondering if there was any way to mix things together so it might taste normal. The guacamole turned out to be mustard so hot it was like getting whooped in the head. And somebody brought up Sean, who had to be let go. He didn't have the charisma for sales. Frankly I don't think he had the charisma for accounting. He may have had a little drinking problem. And he got caught once with porno on his computer. He didn't have the right professionalism, shall we say. So we had to let him go.

Mr. Arlington didn't say anything that hadn't been said before. Mr. Arlington always agrees with everyone -- which frankly may be why he's risen so far even though he's not, shall we say, an innovator. He wasn't adding anything, just putting his seal on the conversation. Mr. Arlington sighed and said, "He's a lost soul." We nodded and said uh-huh, and looked up to see a jalapeno glazed drumstick hit Mr. Arlington right between the eyes.

The guacamole followed, along with a pitcher of sangria. At the opposite end of the table, Mr. Arlington's wife had erupted: she was hurling dishes at him just as calmly and methodically she'd laid them out. A Cornish game hen in a clay pot, tuna in raspberry sauce, venison in molé . She was a helluva good shot too. She would have killed him if she'd started in with the cutlery. And for his part he just sat there and stared at her, like he was seeing her for the first time in his life, and then he looked down at his Brooks Brothers shirt, which, he discovered, now had wine, chocolate, curry, hollandaise, and tomato stains.

Obviously the rest of us had scattered as best we could. Johnson, Stuckey, and Young -- the vice presidents -- spent the whole time under the table and got away with little more than mustard stains. The president was already on his cell phone pleading for a fresh set of clothes.

The wife had been entirely silent except for an umph! when she hurled the platter of duck curry and assassinated a painting of sailboats in a harbor which I believe was very valuable.

Now she started to howl. A sound you'd never think a lady like that would have in her. The same thing over and over. A lost soul! A lost soul! A lost soul!

The wife really was a beautiful woman, though I guess she wasn't young. Pitching dinner at her husband had put some nice color in her face. She was wearing a crisp peach pant suit which I swear did not get one spot on it and which I bet she wore again.

She cleared the entire table right straight at Mr. Arlington. He got the mango chutney last and took it too, like a man receiving final judgment.

Last thing she did she pulled up the linen tablecloth, the silver slid and clattered, the crystal smashed on the hardwood floor. She walked right up to him and tossed the white cloth over his head and he just sat there, wrapped in it.

Of course we didn't blame poor Mr. Arlington. He kept his good job. Lately he is more agreeable than ever. Mr. Arlington, as I have said, is not an innovator. No one blames him or teases him, though I'm sure the combined dry cleaning bill was astronomical. The only thing that's different is we don't have dinner at Mr. Arlington's house anymore. The poor man can't be expected to do all that cooking on his own.

1 comment:

Cyberman said...

Have you ever seen somebody lick the chutney spoon in an Indian Restaurant and put it back? This would never have happened under the Tories.